Ulster County, NY – A Facebook post by a News 12 reporter on yesterday’s massive fire in Kiryas Joel came under scrutiny today as one of many anti-Semitic comments on the blaze was made by a man who claimed to work for the Ulster County Sheriff’s Department.
The original post by Blaise Gomez of News 12 featured initial details of the fire at the multi-family home on Lizensk Boulevard and included video of the scene, showing firefighters battling the blaze surrounded by throngs of onlookers dressed in Chasidic attire.
Gomez’s post drew well over 100 comments, with some expressing sentiments of support for the house’s occupants. Others took a far more disturbing tone, with some saying that the blaze had been intentionally set in order to collect on insurance and other suggesting that the fire might have been linked to the recent FBI raids in the village.
One particularly disturbing comment posted at 9 PM Thursday night by Fred Earl, bore the words “Burn them DOWN, look out for all the RATS running out…WELFARE SCUM..” Earl is identified on his Facebook page as an employee of the Ulster County Sheriff’s Department, a fact that Sheriff PJ Van Blarcum stated was a complete fabrication.
“He absolutely does not work here,” Sheriff Van Blarcum told VIN News.
Sheriff Van Blarcum said that he had already been made aware of the negative comments and that a member of his office had already contacted Earl.
According to the sheriff, Earl said that while he did author the comment on Gomez’s Facebook page last night, he had never listed his place of employment on Facebook as the Ulster County Sheriff’s Department and that information must have been entered by someone else. Earl told the Sheriff that he intended to remove the reference to the Ulster County Sheriff’s Department after he finished work today.
Van Blarcum described Earl’s post as “asinine,” although he defended Earl’s right to freedom of speech.